Empathy is a fantastic trait to have but, it doesn’t come easy.
Empathy is the ability to understand how another person is feeling and respond to them in a caring way. It is incredibly complex for a child to understand.
It is really a journey to teach empathy to a child. One that begins much earlier than you might think.
Here are some tips on helping your child with empathy:
A close relationship with you
Your little one’s relationship with you is the first one they will learn from. Having a loving and secure relationship with you will help your little one feel accepted and safe. It will help them to accept others as they grow.
Even as babies our children are watching our every move to learn how to respond. A toddler will watch a parent’s reaction to a person to see if this person is a friend or a stranger, watching body language, tone of voice, etc. Being empathic yourself and modelling empathy will always be the best way to teach your little one to have empathy.
- Have empathy
Help them have empathy
If one of their siblings or friends is in a similar situation let your little one help to be empathic to their sibling or friend. For example, say to them ‘let's give your sister a big hug because she fell and hurt her knee”.
Books are a great teaching tool for all topics. There are so many options out there. Find one that fits your little one and incorporate it into their bedtime routine.
Use pretend play
Children learn so much through play. Roleplay with teddies or dolls or even cars and show your child empathy through play.